Ninja Jorgensen does not mince words.
Asked how the Glendale High girls' volleyball team has fared in the Pacific League over the years, Jorgensen gets straight to the point.
"We've always been second in league," she says.
Glendale, however, might not play the bridesmaid to perennial league champion Arcadia this season.
Two weeks ago, Glendale traveled to Arcadia and defeated the Apaches in a 2 1/2-hour, five-game match. The Dynamiter victory ended Arcadia's 10-year, 83-match Pacific League victory streak.
The victory was also the most dramatic moment of what Jorgensen and her team hope will continue to be a season of firsts.
Glendale entered the week 10-0, 6-0 in Pacific League play and ranked third in the Southern Section 4-A Division poll--the highest ranking in school history.
Glendale, which earlier this season won the 15-team Arcadia tournament for the first time, is seeking a share of its first Pacific League title since 1980 and its first Southern Section championship ever.
The Dynamiters are led by senior middle hitter Cheryl DeCroupet, senior outside hitter Marisa Mora and junior setter Jennifer Dalton, perhaps the best all-around female athlete in the Glendale area.
"They have complete hitters," Crescenta Valley Coach Barry Eget said. "They can hit lines, angles and put the ball wherever they want."
Daphne Lee and twins Wendy and Darcy McDonald also have played solidly throughout the season.
"Their setter says to their back-row people, 'Put the ball in the air and I'll do something with it,' and their hitters say to their setter, 'Put the ball in the air and we'll do something with it,' " Arcadia Coach Chuck Freberg said. "It's one thing to say that and another to be able to do it.
"They have the ability to do it."
Part of the reason for Glendale's success this season has been the influence of captains DeCroupet and Mora, both of whom have extensive experience at the club level. Arcadia, like all of the traditional volleyball powers in Southern California, has been fueled by the steady influx of experienced club players each season.
"Club players play all year 'round and kids that play nine weeks are not going to beat them--it doesn't matter how good they are," said Jorgensen, who was a middle blocker for the U.S. national team from 1965-73. "Volleyball is a game of experience."
It's also a game of precise teamwork. And Glendale, which features four seniors, four juniors and one sophomore, has benefited from a roster full of players who are friends as well as teammates.
"Last year, our team was divided," DeCroupet said. "This year, we have more unity. Everyone gets along off and on the court."
Glendale's match against Arcadia illustrated the Dynamiters' new-found sense of togetherness. And confidence.
Glendale was ahead, 10-8, in the first game, but dropped seven consecutive points to fall behind, 1-0, in the match.
Behind DeCroupet and Mora, the Dynamiters rebounded for a 15-5 victory in the second game. Arcadia led, 14-13, in the third game, and eventually won it on an illegal hit in the back row and a Mora spike attempt that went into the net.
Once again, however, Glendale rallied.
With Glendale trailing, 14-13, in the fourth game, Dalton served three consecutive points to extend the match to a fifth game. The Dynamiters came back from a 3-0 deficit to take a 13-9 lead on an ace by Wendy McDonald before winning the match on two Arcadia hitting errors.
"We had one of our worst practices the day before and it showed in the match," Freberg said. "I think that got our players' attention.
"Hopefully, we'll be a little tougher and aggressive when we go to their place."
Glendale entered the week with Pacific League matches remaining against Muir, Crescenta Valley, Arcadia and Hoover.
As the Dynamiters head toward another showdown with Arcadia in the unfamiliar position of league leader, Jorgensen is hopeful that at least one tradition holds true.
"Against Arcadia, we usually do better the second time around," she said.